Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where's That Next Meal Coming From? 1 in 6 Americans don't know

It is the day before Thanksgiving, and CBS News, not exactly a radical, alternative news source, informs us that 1 in 6 Americans don't know where their next meal is coming from. And I am wondering how many of those self-aggrandizing, power-mad jerks in Washington know what's going on in the hinterlands outside the Imperial Capital.

That 1 in 6 number is no doubt based on the alternative measurement of poverty recently released by the Census Bureau. It turns out that some of those assholes in Washington are fully aware of poverty in the United States, except they don't think the poor are actually poor. Let's quote from the Christian Science Monitor's New poverty calculus: Cause for alarm or political deception?

The Census Bureau's attempts to improve how the government measures poverty have unleashed criticism from conservatives who say the move is a bid to politicize America's class struggles.

The new Census measure suggests that the ranks of the poor – at 49 million – are 3 million larger than previously thought. The increase comes in the new way poverty is measured. The new Census report for the first time includes government subsidies and benefits such as food stamps as a part of household income, but it also factors in rising costs, such as health-care expenses. The result creates a new poverty line and a new view of who in the US is poor.

The new threshold for poverty for family of four, for example, is $24,343, as opposed to $22,113. And the revision reveals greater poverty trends among Asians, Hispanics, whites, and the elderly, and declining poverty for blacks and children, who tend to be greater beneficiaries of food stamps.

Sociologists say the new numbers give greater nuance to the portrait of poverty in the US, highlighting the degree to which government programs are keeping struggling Americans afloat. Critics counter the numbers are engineered precisely to make government assistance appear indispensable and to pave the way for a broader redistribution of American wealth toward the poor. more